Published: July 6, 2004
An installation at The Philadelphia Museum of Art comprising 19 objects from the museum’s permanent collections challenges traditional categories of art making by juxtaposing works of industrial design and craft in thought-provoking and occasionally whimsical ways.
Included in the exhibition are two pieces of glass, “Ancient Summer” by Robert Willson (American, 1912-2000) and one designed by the Swedish designer Edvin Öhrström (1906-1994).
Willson considered himself an artist who worked in glass, as opposed to a craftsman. Because his complex sculptures required the machinery and technical control of a factory, Willson produced his sculptures in a centuries-old glass factory in Murano, Italy.
Öhrström was a sculptor who designed for the glass industry; his “Ariel” vase, which was produced using techniques similar to those employed by Willson, was manufactured in a series by the Orrefors glass factory in Sweden. Two chairs by Katsuhei Toyoguchi (born 1905) and George Nakashima (1905-2000) in the installation are updated versions of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Windsor chair.
The “Spoke” chair, which takes its name from the vertical supports of its fan-shaped back, was designed for factory production by the Japanese industrial designer Katsuhei Toyoguchi. Yoyoguchi may have been influenced in the design of his chair by Scandi-navian furniture designers who at the time were looking at earlier vernacular styles. Nakashima, a Japanese American, was influenced by both American furniture like the Windsor chair and by Japanese woodwork; he designed and made his furniture in his studio in New Hope, Penn.
The installation is curated by Donna Corbin, assistant curator of European decorative arts and is located in Contemporary Design Gallery 170 on the first floor.
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